Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Streetcar battle about to heat up

Fresno CA - An effort by Fresno Mayor Alan Autry to bring streetcars to the streets of Fresno for redevelopment reasons is about to get ugly.

Fresno City Council voted on Tuesday, October 23rd not to invest city time or money into the idea. The Mayor, of course, plans to veto the City Council's decision and move forward with a study of having streetcars in Fresno.

From what I can see so far in this, it is just another legacy line that Mayor Autry wants. He's so desperate for this streetcar line that he has bypassed the City Council and submitted his proposal for funding of the study to the Council of Fresno County Governments directly.

Of course, when the Mayor presented the plan to the Council of Governments, the impression was made that everyone was "on board" with the idea. To the contrary, many are not.

While the City Council voted to scrap the streetcar study, there may not be enough votes to override the Mayor's pending veto but that doesn't mean that the Mayor won the battle. The Council of Governments is going to review the funding request again based on the new evidence of the Mayor's staff misrepresenting the support for the streetcar study. The Mayor may not have the funding to do the study for his legacy line if the Council of Governments decides to revoke the funding.

This really doesn't surprise me. It happens all the time. A similar thing happened in Pittsburgh with the North Shore Connector last year. The transit system lied through their teeth saying everyone wanted the useless rail line under the river to obtain the funding. The FTA came close to revoking the funding once they found out that the line was not wanted by anyone except the transit system and a handful of politicians.

The people of Fresno need to keep up on this and do the research to learn that the Mayor's streetcar line will do nothing but cost them money. It won't revitalize the city nor will it solve any other problem. All it will do is give the Mayor a legacy line which will have a brass plaque somewhere along the route with his name on it as being instrumental in building the line.